Like many finance leaders at early-stage startups, one of Health Professionals Alliance’s new CFO’s priorities includes getting back to basics: scaling up and locking down the young company’s finance functions.
“I’m coming in now and standing up a real accounting and finance function for the organization,” said HPA’s CFO Karen Molis, who is employee No. 38 at the membership-based services firm.
A veteran finance executive in the food and restaurant industry, Molis’ new role represents a pivot into the healthcare sector. The Lake Oswego, Oregon-based HPA is a doctor-owned membership-based organization with a software-as-a-service (SaaS) suite of services designed to help medical and dental practices improve their profitability by analyzing everything from patient wait times to billing systems.
Molis brings experience with larger public and private firms to her new role. She was most recently CFO of New Seasons Market, a Portland, Oregon-based chain of privately owned grocery stores. Prior to that she was vice president and corporate controller for McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants, now owned by Houston-based Landry’s.
Molis was drawn to the company’s mission of keeping healthcare local, she said, which is similar to the approach that New Seasons takes in the grocery space. New Seasons is also a B Corp, a certification obtained by a for-profit network that indicates a company meets certain standards for social and environmental sustainability.
“Both are very mission based," she said. "One is trying to keep grocery stores local and not commoditized and making sure the grower in our local communities gets paid a fair wage and the other is about keeping healthcare close and local so doctors can continue to practice medicine the way they have been for so many years.”
A rise in doctor group buyouts has been attributed to difficult economics plaguing practices. Amid a broader trend of consolidation in healthcare, physician practices were hit hard by the pandemic as patient volume and revenue shrank while medical supply expenses spiked, according to a WebMD report.
Founded in 2018, HPA members gain economies of scale so they can obtain discounted rates on services such as supplies, marketing and accounting. It now has 91 members, not including founders, up from 21 at the start of 2021.
Growing out of QuickBooks
Molis will tap people and technology to execute her priorities.
She plans to build out her finance team, which is comprised of herself, a bookkeeper and a controller. She’ll also be looking to implement a more robust cloud-based technology platform like Oracle NetSuite to replace the QuickBooks system the company uses.
“QuickBooks is a nice, easy solution until you grow out of it,” said Molis, adding that better controls are key for larger companies. For instance, past transaction dates can be changed on QuickBooks, something a growing company wants to avoid. “It’s more geared to a single business owner,” she said.
Molis will also be building on the company’s capital raising. For now it’s a grass roots approach working through the network of connections of the founders that are still involved. But she will also explore debt and equity options with an aim toward raising about $5 million to $10 million in the next six months. The company has raised more than $32 million.
Through all of her initiatives, she knows she’ll need to overcome some pushback that she might not have gotten at a more established, larger company. “Generally speaking, with any early-stage company, you get a lot of nos,” she said. "I’m going to have to pivot a lot.”